7 May 2008

Photographing strangers

These photography holidays I run in Menorca are always full of lovely surprises for me. I just never know which photographer in the group is going to amaze me next by producing a truly sparkling image. It’s not always the most experienced photographers who produce the most outstanding pictures from any of the locations we explore together.

We photograph people everywhere we go; in the street, indoors, anywhere. It is one of the great joys and freedoms of working in Menorca where the people are so friendly and welcoming. Unlike Britain, where less intelligent attitudes prevail, this is a place where people are proud to be photographed.

One of the places we sometimes visit is an old shop that sells everything from guns to leather saddles, wicker baskets and wooden mouse traps. It’s a marvellous place to take photographs and we are always made extremely welcome by Lorenzo, the owner, and Paca, his assistant. It's one of those real old-fashioned shops where people come in not just to buy, but also for a chat and a sit down. Lorenzo’s beautiful dog befriends everyone and is always a favourite subject for us. But when the customers sit by the door and talk to the dog – the photographers are in heaven.

When the charming old chap, photographed above, came into the shop, I simply asked him to sit by the door in the soft sidelight and let the photographers get on with it. I believe these situations are for them, not for me, so I always step back and let them move in to get their pictures.

This lovely photograph was done by Laura, who prefers to be called Beannie for some reason. She is very inexperienced behind a camera but possesses the ‘eye’. That is she has a natural flare for a picture. Here is the evidence. I think is absolutely beautiful; full of human tenderness. It has captured a very special moment.

I suggested that everyone set their ISO to at least 400 before they went into the shop – it’s pretty dark in there and it’s impossible to set up tripods. So that extra speed enables faster shutter speeds. Here it has really paid off.

Well done, Beannie. That’s her in the centre of the picture of three of the girls on the holiday. Oh, and below is a shot of Cathy making friends with another dog outside the shop while being photographed by the other Laura on the holiday.


scthomas said...

I always love reading your blogs. But would be interested to know what cameras your students are using for your course.

Philip Dunn said...

Thanks for the comment Sue.
A good point, and whenever I can remember, I'll try to put the camera details in the post.

Cathy said...

Hi Sue

I was using a Canon EOS 30D, and in this photo, it's got a 24-105 lens on (which is a really versatile lens and is the one I used inside this wonderful shop). I also used a Canon 70-200 a lot for people shots, and a Sigma 17-70.

I think the most important thing not to worry what camera/lens you have, or what any other students are using. As Philip has said many times, you can achieve fantastic results with a compact or bridge digital camera - as did one of the other Menorca holidaymakers last week.